Draft Northern Ireland peace plan published online

Northern Ireland's political leaders have published a draft agreement on outstanding peace process issues only hours after Executive parties failed to reach consensus on the proposals.

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Draft Northern Ireland peace plan published online

Northern Ireland's political leaders have published a draft agreement on outstanding peace process issues only hours after Executive parties failed to reach consensus on the proposals.

The stalled blueprint for dealing with divisive problems around flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles was drawn up by former US diplomat Richard Haass, who chaired a six-month five-party talks process that ended at 5am this morning without a settlement.

Dr Richard Haas talks to the media during his time in Northern Ireland. Credit: Press Association

Democratic Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness put the document on the website of their joint office so people could assess the plans for themselves.

While Dr Haass did not meet his end-of-year deadline to achieve consensus on the long running disputes, his draft agreement could yet form the basis for a deal.

The two nationalist parties - Sinn Fein and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) - have signalled a willingness to back his proposals.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists have acknowledged progress has been made and have pledged to take the document back for consultation with their respective party executives, but both have expressed major concerns about details of the paper as it stands.

The cross-community Alliance Party said it would endorse the document's proposals on the past, but rejected the suggested resolutions on flags and parades in their current form.The parties are now set to establish a Stormont working group to try and finally reach an accommodation in 2014.

Cameron urges parties to 'keep going' on NI talks

Prime Minister David Cameron said the failure to achieve a breakthrough was disappointing, but urged the parties to "keep going".

Although it is disappointing the parties have not been able to reach full agreement at this stage, these talks have achieved much common ground, providing a basis for continuing discussions.

There is a shared commitment to making progress on these very difficult issues that continue to be a focus for tension and division across the community.

I urge the parties to keep going. I also want to thank Dr Richard Haass and his team for their dedicated work.

The Government and the Northern Ireland parties will continue to work together to strengthen further the foundations for peace, stability and prosperity in Northern Ireland.

– David Cameron

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Haass urges parties to 'move where there is agreement'

Former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass has urged the parties concerned to move forward where there is agreement:

Legacy of the Troubles main sticking point in NI talks

The Haass process was set up in July to deal with what have become three of the primary obstacles to meaningful reconciliation in Northern Ireland:

  • Tensions over contentious parades still regularly erupt into street violence.
  • Disputes over the flying of flags - both on public buildings and in loyalist and republican neighbourhoods - also continue to be a source of community conflict.
  • Arguably the most complex issue has been how Northern Ireland deals with the legacy of a 30-year-conflict where opposing sides retain competing narratives of what happened during the Troubles and victims still demand both truth and justice regarding thousands of unsolved murders.

Parties should 'maintain the momentum' of talks

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said she was disappointed, but the failure to reach a comprehensive agreement should not be seen as the end of the road in seeking to find a way forward on difficult and divisive issues:

I welcome the suggestion by Dr Haass that the parties should now lose no time in getting together to see how they can most constructively take things forward. I would encourage them to maintain the momentum that their efforts, working with the Haass team, has created. For our part, the UK Government will look at how we can best facilitate this.

Villiers: Parties should 'maintain the momentum' of talks

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said she was disappointed, but the failure to reach a comprehensive agreement should not be seen as the end of the road in seeking to find a way forward on difficult and divisive issues:

I welcome the suggestion by Dr Haass that the parties should now lose no time in getting together to see how they can most constructively take things forward. I would encourage them to maintain the momentum that their efforts, working with the Haass team, has created. For our part, the UK Government will look at how we can best facilitate this.

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Haass: Parties 'support significant parts of agreement'

Former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass, who is mediating talks on contentious issues in Northern Ireland, said all the parties "support significant parts of the agreement" but "all have some concerns".

"The choice is not between the text and some ideal - rather it's the choice between going forward with an agreement of this sort that necessarily represents some compromise and the status quo.

Former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass speaking this morning. Credit: APTN

We very much hope that the parties reflect on this, discuss it with their leadership and then come back with a strong endorsement".

Dr Haas said over the next week "we will know a lot more" and that he was confident the agreement "will garner considerable political support".

Adams: There does not appear to be an agreement

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said there does not appear to be an agreement on outstanding peace process issues in Northern Ireland after days of negotiations.

Talks between Stormont's five main political parties on flags, parades and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles continued into the early hours of this morning.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams speaking this morning. Credit: APTN

Speaking at press conference, Mr Adams said: "I'm sure there will be a lot of disappointment as various people come to terms with the fact that there doesn't appear at this point to be an agreement.

"This compromise is far short of what we were proposing, but we think that the vast majority of people will want to see it embraced and that's why we have taken up a positive attitude towards it."

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